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ARAB NEWS DAILY, JEDDAH - Thursday, 9, November, 2006 (18, Shawwal, 1427)


MHMR, Riyadh What is the status of a no-objection certificate (NOC) according to the new labor law? Is it required as before for those who are on sensitive jobs? If someone leaves the Kingdom without an NOC, does the new law allow him to return?

I have been receiving a lot of questions about NOCs, which were issued before the new labor law was introduced. The idea of an NOC being required was to encourage employees to renew their contracts after the expiry of the initial contract term if their employers wished them to continue.

In most cases, an employer senses the possible need of the employee to continue but he is unsure of the future situation. It is legally correct to take precautions and agree with the employee in the contract to have the option to ask the employee to continue with the employer if needed. Then of course the employee is obliged to honor his commitment. It would be right and legal to prevent such an employee from working with another employer or returning for one or two years.

The problem arises when there is no such undertaking by the employee and at the end of his contract the employer asks him to continue or face the penalty of being banned from work in Saudi Arabia for a certain period.

This, of course, is illegal because there is no legitimate reason to deprive the employee of his right to seek another job in the Kingdom after he finishes his contract.

I would say the NOC practice is against the law because the New Labor Law does not accommodate it. Further, the new law has two relevant articles that are important and self-evident in protecting the freedom and will of an employee.

Article 8 states: “Any condition that violates the provisions of this law as well as any release or reconciliation involving the rights of the workman arising from this law during the currency of the employment contract, shall be null and void, except where such condition, release or reconciliation is more beneficial to the workman.”

Here “condition” does not mean a term in a contract. It means any law, regulation, circular, administrative order, etc.

Article 244 states: “This law shall supersede the Labor and Workmen Law promulgated by Royal Decree No. M/21, dated Ramadan 6, 1389 (Nov. 15, 1969) and shall repeal all provisions that are inconsistent with it. The rules and regulations issued prior to the effective date hereof shall continue in effect until they are amended.”

The “rules and regulations” mentioned toward the end of the article means the rules for the execution the law. There the article makes any other orders or administrative circulars that are inconsistent with the new law null and void.

(Readers can now download an unofficial translation of the New Labor Law from my website www.naderlaw.com.)



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